Iran's exiled Prince Reza Pahlavi has said in a statement that the body unearthed on April 23 in Shahr-e Rey, Tehran, is most likely that of his grandfather, Reza Shah Pahlavi, founder of the Pahlavi Dynasty.
This is not only the concern of a person or a family, it is an issue with national and historic aspects. Reza Shah belongs to all people of Iran and his admirers....Prince Reza Pahlavi
In his statement posted on April 24 on his official website, Reza Pahlavi has urged the Islamic Republic authorities to respect the exhumed body "if not as the father of the modern Iran or a monarch" but at least "as a soldier and servant to the nation and the homeland".
"This is not only the concern of a person or a family, it is an issue with national and historic aspects. Reza Shah belongs to all people of Iran and his admirers", Prince Reza wrote.
He also called upon "all Iranians as the true guardians of [Reza Shah's] legacy" to assist the Pahlavi family through social media campaigns and peaceful rallies across the nation "to hold the government accountable and help lead this matter to a transparent and suitable conclusion".
The discovery of the mummified body in Tehran has caused something of a stir in a society with emotions already running high witnessing anti-government protests almost on a daily basis. Almost 40 years after the victory of the 1979 revolution that ended the rule of the royal dynasty established by Reza Shah and forced his son, King Mohammadreza Pahlavi into exile, Reza Shah's presence was felt even before the body was found.
"Bless Your Soul Reza Shah" made it to the top five favorite slogans of protesters in recent months. It is now ubiquitous on Persian social media.
In a series of protests and rallies that broke out on December 28 and soon spread to more that 100 cities across Iran, many demonstrators voiced support for the monarchy and expressed regret for taking part in the 1979 Islamic Revolution that led to Pahlavi’s downfall, ending 2,500 years of monarchy in Iran.
More recently the steep decline in the value of the Iranian currency has once again brought up comparisons with the economic situation before the revolution. During most of Mohammad Reza Shah's reign, one U.S. dollar bought around 70 rials, while now the rial has fallen close to 60,000 against the dollar.
People make these comparisons on social media and mock the Islamic Republic for its economic mismanagement and corruption. This clearly unnerves the clerical rulers who occasionally try to respond to popular criticism.
And now, with Reza Shah allegedly "physically" back, tens of thousands of Iranian social media users are posting mostly sympathetic messages to the monarch who passed away in 1944 at the age of 66. "People called his name and he rose from ashes like phoenix", one Twitter user wrote in Persian on the day the mummy was found which was, perhaps ironically, one day before the anniversary of his coronation on April 24 1926.